Sbragia's stint spanned the January transfer window when Sunderland shipped out high-earning misfits El-Hadji Diouf and Pascal Chimbonda - who had only joined the club five months earlier - while Graham Kavanagh and Ross Wallace also moved on.
Those sales recouped £8.5m in transfer fees and cutting short those contracts saved a similar figure in wages.
That money was then available to Sbragia's successor Steve Bruce and he used it to bring in Bent, who will end up costing around £14m by the time all the add-ons to his original £10m transfer fee are taken into account.
Black Cats chairman Niall Quinn told the Sunday Sun: "Ricky came in and, while he didn't get a lot of credit, I'll give him credit until the day I die because he did a great job for us.
"In that January transfer window, he allowed me to bring in £8.5m in transfer fees and save another £8m in wages. So Ricky not only kept us up, he also provided £16m for Steve Bruce to spend when he took over last summer.
"People don't appreciate that. They see that he kept us up on the last day of the season and they know that was massively important, but they don't see the other side of it.
"To me, it was a colossal achievement because if we had brought in another manager last January he might not have wanted to sell those players and might have wanted ANOTHER £16m to spend.
"We might have finished one or two places higher but, compared to what Ricky did, we would have been £32m down! Instead, what it meant was that Steve Bruce was able to utilise that money and it enabled us go that little bit further and attract a player like Darren Bent.
"In fact, I can trace back and say I think it would have been very difficult to bring Darren Bent in last summer, had it not been for Ricky Sbragia."